Editor's note: Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Gary E. Maestas, sent out a letter via Twitter to the community on Friday responding to the
The full text of the letter follows:
Dear Parents and Colleagues,
In the news this afternoon, we are learned of a massive shooting at a Connecticut elementary school. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, school staff and communities affected by this unthinkable tragedy. While reports continue to unfold the circumstances, we know that an incident of this magnitude is troubling to adults and children alike as we struggle to understand why tragedies such as this occur.
Please know that the safety of our students, staff and faculty is our number one priority in the Plymouth Public School District. Our schools have worked hard over the past few years in developing our building emergency preparedness plans. Our plans have been developed in coordination with local police, fire and emergency management departments and their extensive training and guidance has been at the forefront of our plans. We have in turn trained our school staffs and regularly practice drills in preparation for potential emergencies at every school. Please be assured that preparedness for emergencies has been and continues to be a top priority in your schools.
Currently, your students are safely attending our schools, and most likely are not yet aware of the incident today. As they return home and tune in to media reports, however, this will no doubt be top-of-mind discussion among families throughout the nation.
For your immediate reference, here are some suggestions to help make your children feel safe:
Turn off or monitor the television. Endless news programs are likely to heighten anxiety, and young children cannot distinguish between images on television and their personal reality.
Maintain a normal routine.
Stick to facts. Answer questions factually. "Yes, we may go to war and our troops will do their jobs to protect us." "Yes, there was a very sad incident in Connecticut today, but your teacher and principal are working very hard to keep you safe.
Remain calm and reassuring.
Children take their cues from their parents, teachers and adults.
Be a good listener and observer.
Pay attention to changes in behavior.
Take care of yourself.
You are better able to help your students if you are coping well. If you are anxious or upset, your students are more likely to be so as well.
Next week, our schools will be ready with counseling support on hand for those who need additional reassurance. Please let your school principal or counselor know if you have specific concerns about your student/s.
We will also encourage our schools to review their crisis plans in light of this tragedy as well as reinforce school security and campus visitor procedures. In the coming year, we will continue to reach out to our families and school communities to build greater awareness and knowledge regarding these plans.
In a world of uncertainty, we will continue our work together to ensure the safety and well being of all 8000+ students and staff in our schools. This correspondence will be shared with our families through email as well as hard copy on Monday, December 17, 2012.
Dr. Gary E. Maestas
Superintendent of Schools